AOH artists’ work on ITV crime drama!
Anna Deamer – Hangover Square Netta’s Flat (Brighton Festival and HOUSE 2012)
We asked artist and set designer, Anna Deamer, and AOH artists Kate Scott and Hannah Forward to tell us how their work appeared in the ITV crime drama ‘Grace’.
We talk to ‘Grace’ set decorator Anna Deamer:
Hi Anna, can you tell us about the TV series you are working on and your role within it?
I’m just about to start work again as a set decorator on an ITV drama called ‘Grace’. The drama’s based on the Peter James’ books which are all set in and around Brighton. I worked on this production last year, in the same role. We filmed all round our local area, from Worthing to Newhaven. Each book takes around 5 weeks to shoot and the first, ‘Dead Simple’ was screened last year on ITV. The books are being filmed chronologically and we’ll be shooting books 3-5 from this summer up to Christmas.
Kate Scott – Monsoon Season
As set decorator, I’m responsible for sourcing, gathering and then dressing the sets, ready for filming (and then the safe return afterwards). I’m also responsible for the vehicles, animals, weapons, special prop makes and for balancing the budget so there’s an enormous amount to do on a series such as ‘Grace’. We have a great team in the art department, to make sure the sets and everything in them are just right, and many of us are local. The designer, Madelaine Leech is based in Shoreham, our lovely prop master Jason Woods and standby Nic, both live in Fiveways and our brilliant dressing props Andy, Al and Reuben also live in Brighton. It’s a dream for us to be working locally on a project such as ‘Grace’ and I’m very much looking forward to the team getting back together soon.
Kate Scott – Untitled with Tangerine
Can you tell us about your decision to select local artists for the set dressing?
Wherever possible I have (and will continue) to use the work of local artists to dress the sets. Pretty much every set needs wall dress (such as paintings, photographs, posters, depending on the type of set and the inhabitants) and ITV are particularly strict about using copyright cleared images. If original artwork is needed, a set decorator will usually hire work (which has been cleared for screen use) from London prop houses. Although this is an easier and faster way to dress a set, the choice is sometimes limited, and you can’t always find work which suits a specific character or set.
Hannah Forward – Jazz Band Monocrome
By using the work of local artists, we are supporting the local art community, promoting the artists and also potentially using a more diverse and original range of work. Of course, the most important thing is that the work is right for the set, but if we can support local artists whose work suits the design of the space, this feels the right thing to do. Although we have relatively small budgets, it’s nice to be able to pay the artists a small fee for borrowing the work for a week or so and then the work is returned safely after filming.
Hannah Forward – Thumb
On the first film we used the work of Kate Scott for a set called ASHLEY’S FLAT. I’ve always admired Kate’s work and knew it would be perfect for this set. The director of the first film, John Alexander, producer Kiaran Murray-Smith and designer Madelaine Leech were all keen to give the show a seasidy feel and specifically an authentic Brighton look. The majority of the sets had a blue-green-grey colour palette and Kate’s work fitted this perfectly.
Kate Scott – Truth Teller
I contacted Judy at AOH and asked if she could recommend other artists who might fit specific sets and she introduced me to Hannah Forward and Alejandro Martinez – whose work appears in the next film, ‘Looking Good Dead’. We also used a print of Saltdean Lido by Fred Pipes in the kitchen of Grace’s house – although this didn’t appear in Film 1, I’m hoping we’ll see it in one of the next three films – if we’re back in this location. If there are any other artists who would like to be considered for the next three films, I’d love to hear from them…
We talk to AOH artist Kate Scott:
How was your work selected for the inclusion in Grace?
A friend and supporter of mine, Anna Deamer, is on the production team of the company that produced Grace. She has been following me for a few years and felt it was more sustainable to use local artists for the production, as it was based and filmed on location here. Not to mention she thought my work was a good fit for one of the main character’s flats.
How many pieces of your work were shown and what was the context?
They hired six of my paintings of various sizes for the first ‘Grace’ episode, ‘Dead Simple’, featuring the beloved character of detective Roy Grace. The paintings were were hung in every space in the flat – a Penthouse in the New England development area – on the stairs, hallway, bedroom and living room. The camera was on the actress as she sat on her sofa being interviewed by an investigator for quite a while, with the painting behind her, which was lucky for me.
Have there been any special impacts for you resulting from having had your work seen on TV?
The run up to the programme being shown was quite secretive, I wasn’t allowed to discuss it on social media until very near the release. They actually hired the paintings last summer, 2020, but due to Covid I think there were a few delays. I had no idea if there would be tiny glimpses of the paintings or recognisable shots of whole pieces until I watched it myself, so I was a bit hesitant and shy about promoting it!
I got lots of lovely messages on social media for days afterwards from people recognising my work. As far as I know, I wasn’t personally named on the credits, but it was a very high profile programme and I am sure people could research the production company for information if they saw and loved the work. I was chuffed and felt it was another string to my bow and also learnt a lot in the process about the contracts and paperwork involved, but it was all done very smoothly and efficiently with them selecting, collecting and returning my work. They have also said they may use my work again.
Kate Scott – Bright Sky Gleaming
Will we be able to see some of it in your Open House this month?
Yes, one of the paintings seen a lot in the programme, ‘Bright Sky Gleaming’, will be on the wall at my pop up open house, and a few of the others are around and available.
Is there other new work you will be showing?
Absolutely! I have been very productive during lockdown, especially since I was furloughed from my part-time job and have quite a large body of new work – more than 20 new paintings. I will be showing them for the first time in both my pop up exhibition at Art at 21–1 Rigden Road, in the Seven Dials trail and at Jane Palmer & Friends in the Fiveways trail where I am also a guest artist. I love being part of the Seven Dials trail, where we conduct regular live chats from our Instagram page and meet and swap ideas and stories with other members of the trail.
I am really excited to get the chance to show again with AOH after a particularly successful year in 2019 in Art At Zerb’s, which I co curated, and which won an award and was short-listed for the Best Open House from votes received by visitors. I love taking part in the Open Houses – in fact I have been brought up on them, being taken round them as a child for as long as I remember by my mum, Annie Robinson, who was the director of the Friends of the Brighton Festival for a few years, so was very enthusiastic!
How was your work selected for the inclusion in Grace?
I was contacted by Anna Deamer in October last year, who asked if I’d be interested in hiring out some of my artwork to be used as set dressing in Bryce House for the ITV drama based on the Peter James novel ‘Grace’. I’d never hired my artwork out in this way before so was excited by the prospect, and said yes please!
Do you know how many pieces of your work will be included and in what context it will be used?
Yes, Anna came to visit my studio and selected three pieces – ‘Morning Coffee’, which is a small, square linocut and which was hung in the kitchen area of Bryce House; ‘Kite Flyers’, a medium sized linocut hung in the living room area and ‘Rain’, a medium sized screenprint hung in the hallway.
Do you think there will be special impacts for you resulting from having had your work seen on TV?
It’s possible I could get some artwork sales as a result of my work appearing on TV, because the audience for TV programs is so large. I have an illustrator friend whose work was used in the background of a Channel 4 sitcom and she sold a few prints directly because of it – people can be very keen eyed and excellent detectives!
Will we be able to see some of this work in your Open House this month?
Yes, all three pieces used in ‘Grace’ will be included in the 12 Scott Road Artist’s Open House, which is part of the West Hove trail, alongside lots of other contemporary printmaking, painting and ceramics.
Is there other new work you will be showing?
I’ll be showing lots of new limited edition linocut prints, woodcut prints and acrylic paintings. New print themes include a jazz band, kayaks, skateboarders, surfers and aeroplanes! We’ve had a whole two years since we last opened our doors so can’t wait to show what we’ve been busy making….
Hannah Forward – Kayaks
Anna Deamer tells us more…
How does your work on ‘Grace’ relate to projects you have previously worked on?
I originally trained in fine art at Wimbledon College of Art although I’ve worked on and off in theatre, film and television for over 25 years. Over the past 10 years most of my work has been installation based, funded by the Arts Council – placing film sets into gallery settings (‘Hangover Square’ HOUSE and Brighton Festival 2011 & 2012, ‘Berg’ Cinecity 2013). During this time, I’ve accumulated many local contacts. Working on ‘Grace’ has enabled me to use my network of Brighton resources and contacts and also those in London which has been very rewarding.
I’ve approached my installation-based work in exactly the same way as design for film and television. I strongly believe in being true to a script, text or brief and finding dressing which feels true to the characters inhabiting the space. For this work I started by combing local charity shops and car boot sales and then the items still outstanding were hired from London prop houses. And I’ve also taken this approach for ‘Grace’, to work and source locally as much as possible. I’m especially keen to use local charities and Emmaus in Portslade have been especially supportive and helpful (for my installation projects and TV work) – in fact the majority of the main police station set in ‘Grace’ was sourced through Emmaus who are brilliantly helpful in finding all sorts of tricky props.
Has the recent lockdown period changed the way you work creatively?
Lockdown has changed my working practice enormously. Last Spring, I started prep on ‘Grace’ and then we had to Lockdown until the Summer. During this Lockdown I returned to my own work and started painting again after a break of many years.
Winter Sun, Firle (2021), oil on canvas (20 x 20cm)
When ‘Grace’ started back we had to follow very strict Covid protocol – including sourcing all props early in order to quarantine them prior to the dress and also dressing sets early so they could be sterilised before the crew arrived. All processes are much slower, and you can’t just drop into a prop house now, many need pre booking and you have to be incredibly organised. During the second Lockdown I started painting again and hope I can now juggle this with my set dec work.
O, Moon (2020), oil on canvas (20 x 20cm)
Might you exhibit your work in the Artists Open Houses sometime in the future?!
At the moment I’m enjoying producing work without any obligations and pressure, just me, ideas, paint and canvas. I’m feeling my way slowly and making small images. I don’t have plans for more large-scale installation projects – funding for this sort of work is almost impossible to secure now and these big projects take an enormous amount of time, energy, logistics and a large team to create. So, I’m keeping it simple and if and when I’m happy with my work, yes, I’d like to exhibit again in the future.